South Korean troops mistakenly attack passenger jet

Troops in South Korea attacked a passenger jet Saturday after mistaking it for a North Korean aircraft. The Asiana Airlines plane was out of range and escaped undamaged; the 119 on board were unharmed.

Soldiers fired 99 rounds, including two blanks, from their K2 rifles at the Airbus A321 as it approached Incheon International Airport on a flight from China. That airport serves Seoul and is 25 miles (40.2 kilometres) from the border between the two Korean states.

An Asiana A321, Image: Ellery Cheng.

┬áThe plane’s route is disputed. One aviation controller said that the plane was “flying normally” and “did not deviate from its normal route,” a claim with which Asiana agrees. However, Yonhap reports that the South Korean marines who attacked the aircraft say it was off-course. A Marine Corps official said the shooting lasted ten minutes as the plane flew over Jumun island. The marines fired from nearby Gyodong.

Relations between the two Korean countries have been tense since the end of open hostilities in the 1953 Korean War. The South Korean military has recently used photos of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s family for target practice, with the north threatening retaliation. South Korean media claimed yesterday that the south has US-built missiles capable of reaching the northern capital, Pyongyang, and blamed the north for twin bombings that killed 50 people last year.

The troops opened fire with K2s, but the jet was out of range. Image: W:User:Kahuna028.

South Korean troops have been told by Defence Minister Kim Kwan-Jin to fire at attacking North Koreans without waiting for or seeking instructions. “Don’t ask your commanders whether to fire back or not. Take actions first and then report afterwards,” he said on the front line in March. The South Korean military was criticised in November for a slow response to the north’s shelling of Yeonpyeong island, which killed four.

The two marines who attacked the plane yesterday had recently been told that the North was increasing military action due to heightened tensions. As a result of the incident, increased training on aircraft identification will be performed. Asiana said they were unaware of the attack until contacted by the military and asked if the jet had been hit.

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Clinton blasts ‘deeply distressing’ leak of US sites

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regretted the “deeply distressing” release of a secret list of key infrastructure sites that could threaten US security if hit by terror strikes.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

“I will underscore that this theft of US government information and its publication without regard for the consequences is deeply distressing,” Clinton said as she briefed reporters with Japan and South Korea’s top diplomats.

“The illegal publication of classified information poses real concerns and even potential damage to our friends and partners” worldwide, she warned.

In one of its most explosive leaks of US secrets so far, WikiLeaks yesterday divulged a list of key infrastructure sites around the world that, if attacked, could critically harm US security.

David Beckham arrives in Trinidad and Tobago amid security fears

British footballer David Beckham has arrived in Trinidad and Tobago amid fears of kidnapping. Beckham travelled to the island of Trinidad to watch the final of the FIFA women’s Under 17s World Cup final and to launch a football festival for children. The stars arrival is also speculated to help England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup.

David Robert Joseph Beckham.

Beckham’s safety has come into question while he is visiting the island. Trinidad and Tobago have one of the highest murder and kidnap rates in the world. Beckham, who is reported to have a 125m fortune, could be a high target for a ransom kidnap. Upon his arrival, there were a numerous amount of police on scene as well as Beckham’s own personal security team.

Along with FIFA president Sepp Blatter, Beckham watched the women’s Under 17s World Cup final which saw South Korea defeat Japan to win the cup. The football festival he will host on Monday has gained criticism from officals. The host of the festival is the Marvin Lee Stadium; Lee was the captain of the Trinidad and Tobago national football team and died during a match in 2003 when he collided with Landon Donovan, a former team mate of Beckham.

Critism was also brought up over the choice of Beckham to host the festival. Trinidadian footballer Dwight Yorke is reported to have been upset with the choice of Beckham over himself or cricketing legend Brian Lara. The Trinidad Star newspaper said “If we are talking about inspiring youths, then why do we have to turn to Beckham when we already have someone from here who has achieved everything in the game.”

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